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J Exp Biol. 2013 May 1;216(Pt 9):1587-96. doi: 10.1242/jeb.078345.

Hearing threshold shifts and recovery after noise exposure in beluga whales, Delphinapterus leucas.

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Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow 119071, Russia.


Temporary threshold shift (TTS) after loud noise exposure was investigated in a male and a female beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas). The thresholds were evaluated using the evoked-potential technique, which allowed for threshold tracing with a resolution of ~1 min. The fatiguing noise had a 0.5 octave bandwidth, with center frequencies ranging from 11.2 to 90 kHz, a level of 165 dB re. 1 ╬╝Pa and exposure durations from 1 to 30 min. The effects of the noise were tested at probe frequencies ranging from -0.5 to +1.5 octaves relative to the noise center frequency. The effect was estimated in terms of both immediate (1.5 min) post-exposure TTS and recovery duration. The highest TTS with the longest recovery duration was produced by noises of lower frequencies (11.2 and 22.5 kHz) and appeared at a test frequency of +0.5 octave. At higher noise frequencies (45 and 90 kHz), the TTS decreased. The TTS effect gradually increased with prolonged exposures ranging from 1 to 30 min. There was a considerable TTS difference between the two subjects.

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